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What happened to the six players Cristiano Ronaldo tipped to become world's best back in 2017

What happened to the six players Cristiano Ronaldo tipped to become world's best back in 2017

Ronaldo made some big predictions back in 2017.

Cristiano Ronaldo once predicted who would succeed him as the best player in the world, but not all of his picks worked out too well.

There's certainly a debate to be had about who is the best footballer on the planet, but in 2017 there was only one answer.

In 2016-17 Ronaldo helped Real Madrid to complete a La Liga and Champions League double.

In 2017 the Portuguese star scored 53 goals in all competitions, and completed a clean sweep with the Ballon d'Or, FIFA's The Best award and the UEFA Player of the Year award.

After winning the latter in August 2017, Ronaldo was asked which players he thought might one day surpass him as the world's best player.

He answered: "In the next generation there are at least 10 players with very, very great potential."

So, almost seven years later, how did those players get on?

Marco Asensio

In hindsight, it was a little generous of Ronaldo to include Asensio in that top bracket, but at the time his then-21-year-old Madrid teammate looked like the real deal.

The Spanish winger became the fourth youngest player to score in a Champions League final when he netted against Juventus in 2017, but since then he has failed to properly establish himself as a top talent.

After his contract expired in June, Asensio joined Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. He was a surprise omission from Spain's Euro 2024 squad.

Kylian Mbappe

That's more like it. As Ronaldo predicted, Mbappe has been one of the best players on the planet pretty much since he burst onto the scene as a teenager at Monaco in 2016/17.

In the summer of 2017 he moved to Paris Saint-Germain and hasn't stopped scoring since.

Kylian Mbappe is one of the best players in the world (Image: Getty)
Kylian Mbappe is one of the best players in the world (Image: Getty)

He's even done it on the international stage, too. Not content with firing France to World Cup glory in 2018 as a 19-year-old, he came within a whisker of repeating the trick in 2022.

Once Euro 2024 has concluded, Mbappe will turn his attention to his first season at Real Madrid, following his departure from PSG.


Ronaldo highlighted Brazilian star Neymar, but it's hard to argue that the Brazilian has reached the same heights.

The tricky attacker was the original heir to the Ronaldo - and Lionel Messi - throne, but in the last few years has appeared to lose his way a bit.

Controversy has followed Neymar around like a bad smell, and now 31, he currently plays in the Saudi Pro League for Al Hilal.

He missed Brazil's 2024 Copa America campaign after suffering an ACL injury last autumn.

Ousmane Dembele

Dembele was tearing up trees at Borussia Dortmund in 2017, so much so that Barcelona signed him for £135 million.

The French winger has not consistently hit the heights since though, with injuries haunting him since he moved to Spain.

He's enjoyed a mini-revival of late and like Asensio, he currently plays for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

Unfortunately, the 27-year-old has made little impact for France at Euro 2024.

Eden Hazard

Hazard was arguably the best player in the world in 2018, destroying Premier League defences with Chelsea and leading Belgium to the World Cup semi-finals.

Eden Hazard failed to live up to expectations at Real Madrid (Image: Getty)
Eden Hazard failed to live up to expectations at Real Madrid (Image: Getty)

However, everything fell apart when he moved to Real Madrid in 2019 to replace Ronaldo.

Injuries and poor form limited the Belgian winger to just 54 appearances in four years at the Bernabeu, making him one of the biggest transfer flops of recent times.

He announced his retirement from professional football in October at the age of 32.

Marcus Rashford

Like Dembele and Mbappe, Rashford made waves when he started terrorising defences as a teenager, but in recent years he has struggled with injuries and form.

The England international rediscovered his scoring touch in 2022-23, but a poor 2023-24 campaign saw him miss out on England's Euro 2024 squad.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid, La Liga, Champions League, Ballon d'Or, Football, Kylian Mbappe